A woman swimming in a river with mountains in the distance

As a young girl, I was all about tutus, pearls and dresses. I couldn’t stand the sensation of jeans on my skin, and pants were far too restricting. I loved raiding my mom’s makeup bag, attempting to color my lips in with a ruby red tint and painting my nails, skin and all. 

The middle of two brothers, I could hold my own in a wrestling match because nails weren’t off limits and pulling my “Dad card” was always an option. I understood the “girly” side of femininity to be a beautiful thing, but as time progressed, I discovered a whole new side of the word “femininity”—the wild side.

I became best friends with a girl in my neighborhood who shared a mutual love for Barbie Dreamhouses, playing “Little Mermaid” in the swimming pool and dancing. She also held her own in street hockey, surfing, skateboarding, wakeboarding, dirt biking and other things that were seemingly “off-limits” for girls. As her best friend, I was invited along.

My limits were stretched as I nosedived over the falls on a fiberglass board that towered above my tiny frame. I suited up in a racing vest and pants boosting myself up on to a red Honda 80. I never joined in with the boys’ street hockey matches, but I did wind up skating some ramps. While these activities were labeled as “tomboy” by society, to me, they were merely adventurous. 

Even as a third grader, I knew that “adventure was out there.” Like little Ellie from the Pixar favorite, “Up,” I was convinced that there was a world waiting to be explored. I had heard tale after tale from friends about their airborne adventures and said goodbye as my little brother and mom boarded an airplane. 

I was convinced that there was a world waiting to be explored.

I want to fly one day. I vowed with determination in my heart. Little did I know, I was just a commercial flight away. One day, while watching Saturday morning cartoons, a Southwest Airlines ad came on TV.

“Fly one-way to San Jose for only $29!”

Twenty nine dollars? I quickly added up my piggy bank budget. I can afford that! With a picture of my aunt and uncle in hand, escorted by a flight attendant, I boarded a plane bound for northern California as my parents waved goodbye. As difficult as it may have been at times, they constantly refrained from hindering the dreamer in me, enabling my adventurous side. 

Fresh out of high school and traveling the world alone seemed outlandish for a young woman, but I knew that I was called to a cadence that didn’t match the prescribed rhythm. As you can imagine, touching down on five of the seven continents and more than 30 countries makes for some wild and amusing stories. Breaking molds is risky, but when you realize that you were never meant for the mold to begin with, it becomes 100 percent necessary. The truth is that we’re all beautifully and uniquely designed, set apart for a future that shatters stereotypes. 

Breaking molds is risky, but when you realize that you were never meant for the mold to begin with, it becomes 100 percent necessary.

Believe it or not, there did come a day that I didn’t want to step foot on an airplane. I set out on a new adventure, and surprisingly, that adventure entailed more culture shock than any of the others. Attempting to settle back into southern California, I found myself living off Ventura Boulevard, dabbling in the entertainment industry and opening my door to a world of pavement. It was a lifelong dream, but my wild side was wilting. Desperate for greenery, I found myself on the fringe of burnout. I had been there before, but this time, by God’s grace, I took the exitsimplicity. 

Seeking a break from the traffic and buzz of the city, I was once again swept away into a never-ending adventure. The east side of the Sierra Nevada is what I have come to identify as an “adult’s playground.” Like a wide-eyed 5-year-old experiencing Disneyland for the first time, the magnitude of this wild terrain may seem unconquerable, but it sure doesn’t stop one from trying.

The peaks towering overhead beckon challenge; however, once you’ve conquered one, you realize they continue to layer behind. What was once the boundary line of my horizon became a platform of perspective offering views of a vast and seemingly endless wilderness.

John Muir once said, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” Adventure takes on different shapes and sizes. It could mean confronting a fear or taking a risk. It could mean doing that one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but inhibition got in the way. We all have boundaries that can be stretched, and in doing so, we discover a little more of what we are made of.

I love the tutus. I love the glam, but there’s more to the word “femininity.” Adventure isn’t gendered. Adventure is innate within every human being. 

Do you enjoy taking risks and seeking out adventure? Do you think that adventure and femininity can go hand-in-hand?

Image via Taylor Butters

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4 comments

  1. i loved the last comment from Brit and the article also…Maybe Brit could write the article as she suggested…

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! We love Brit’s ideas that she shared in addition to Lauren’s personal story. Lauren covered this topic with such honesty, based on her own experiences. As far as submissions, we are always open!

  2. It depends on the risk whether I “enjoy” it or not, but I do love adventures! And I don’t believe adventure is gendered either, otherwise, what part of adventure is masculine? But we aren’t inherently gendered either. We learn gender. It’s not natural. And maybe adventure seems gendered because the world is more dangerous for women to move through. That’s just a fact unfortunately. We can barely take a walk through a local park without being catcalled or preyed upon, so when women are more hesitant about traveling alone, it’s not because they are too feminine. It’s because for females, we live in a different reality than men for physical reasons. I too have traveled to many countries alone as a female. Curiosity and freedom drove that decision, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t dangerous or terrifying at time. And when I met other women traveling solo, we shared stories about some dangers we experienced such as being followed, being literally picked up from behind and dragged to a shop in order to lure a customer, attempts at being traded for property in Northern Africa. Situations that men could not relate to. And women are full people, meaning we have both masculine and feminine traits, and can be anything between or beyond those gender roles, as gender is simply a CONSTRUCT. Which means we are just as much a woman if we are embracing the tutu or embracing a basketball. It would be interesting to read an article in Darling about the Wild side of Masculinity from a female’s perspective. In a world that is confusing sex with gender, I think it’s an important message to share. Instead of how do I make gender roles work for me, what about how do I not allow gender roles to determine who I am… since they are simply behaviors society has deemed “appropriate” for each sex and are baseless accusations, a product of patriarchy. Femininity and masculinity are inherently sexist terms. You can embrace any gender role regardless of your sex. So, instead of referencing femininity in this article, because it seems irrelevant, why bring it up at all? Or renaming it: We are all Beyond Femininity, and use your experiences to empower women to take more risks and live more deeply but including the safety that must be considered for women. I did enjoy the article. Thanks for sharing!

    1. We love this Brit! Thank you for sharing your travel experiences and your opinions on this topic.

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